Plunkett makes happy return

The Northern Echo: TON UP: Durham’s Mark Stoneman celebrates his century TON UP: Durham’s Mark Stoneman celebrates his century

KUMAR SANGAKKARA, out second ball, was not the only Durham batsman to miss the boat yesterday as career-best scores by Mark Stoneman and Michael Richardson failed to stave off the threat of the follow- on against Yorkshire.

The rest of the top eight mustered a paltry 31 between them as Durham closed the third day on 361 for eight, still 228 behind.

Their former team-mate Liam Plunkett produced the sort of pace and accuracy required to make an impression on a docile pitch.

He wasn’t particularly threatening in his morning spell, but a switch to the Lumley End worked wonders, prompting Yorkshire president Dickie Bird, on a visit to the media centre, to observe: “He’s my dark horse for t’ first Test. You need pace in Test cricket.”

Plunkett removed Stoneman for 131, but he couldn’t shift Richardson, who is doing a fine job in taking over from Dale Benkenstein as the middle order rock.

He made a magnificent 148 before becoming Adil Rashid’s third victim when he shuffled forward and was stumped the ball after driving the leg-spinner over long-off for six.

Durham made a wise move when they decided Richardson should abandon his role as the reserve wicketkeeper and concentrate on becoming a top order batsman.

He and Stoneman also made centuries at Scarborough last August, when Durham’s weight of first innings runs proved decisive, just as Yorkshire’s might still do here.

Sangakkara will be determined to defy them, however, as his plan for acclimatising to English conditions has not exactly followed the script.

With two matches for Durham to prepare for Sri Lanka’s tour, he had the chance to play a big innings in response to Yorkshire’s 589 for eight.

But he was out of luck as he pushed forward and edged a good ball from Ryan Sidebottom to third slip.

It rebounded out of Kane Williamson’s hands for Adam Lyth to complete the catch, providing the bowler with his only hint of luck on a day when he became as exasperated as Durham with umpire Alex Wharf’s refusal to raise his finger.

Despite Stoneman’s fluency, Durham were on a fairly precarious 70 for three when Richardson joined him. They played highly contrasting innings, as highlighted by the statistics.

Stoneman reached 50 off 54 balls and his century off 166; the figures for Richardson were 112 and 159. His 47-ball second 50 was full of confident strokes before he knuckled down against the new ball, just as Stoneman had done against some fine bowling after completing his half-century by clipping Sidebottom sweetly to the mid-wicket boundary in the day’s first over.

Scott Borthwick departed for two, lbw to Tim Bresnan as he and Sidebottom succeeded where Durham had failed in bowling with probing accuracy.

With Plunkett also excelling, Jack Brooks was the weak link in the attack.

When Bresnan returned for a second spell Stoneman was twice beaten on 76, surviving a big appeal for caught behind.

Bresnan had bowled 14 overs for 15 runs until Stoneman leg-glanced him for four just before lunch and afterwards he reached his hundred by following a short-arm pull in front of mid-wicket off Brooks with a front-foot clip to the same boundary off the next ball.

Plunkett replaced Brooks and showed good stamina in a highly testing ten-over spell.

He had Stoneman dropped by Rashid at first slip on 102 but finally pinned him lbw shortly after moving past his previous best of 128, made at Hove in 2011.

Plunkett was bowling round the wicket to the lefthander, who misjudged the line of a ball which skidded into him with lower than usual bounce when he was offering no stroke.

The return of Brooks took some of the pressure off and Richardson pulled him for six before playing some confident cuts off Rashid.

Paul Collingwood, in contrast, opted to try to pull the leg-spinner and was bowled for ten, then shortly after the new ball was taken Phil Mustard drove at Plunkett and edged behind.

Mark Wood dug in to defy Sidebottom, with the help of a dropped catch by Lyth at second slip, but then tried to cut Rashid and chopped the ball into his stumps.

Richardson probably had a fourth batting point in mind when he got out with 11 needed but two maidens followed and the chance was gone.

Jamie Harrison and Graham Onions had little trouble in seeing out the last eight overs, becoming the third and fourth highest scorers. But Durham still need 79 to avoid the follow-on.

Yorkshire lead 6-4 on bonus points and will be deeply frustrated if they don’t pick up 16 for a win today.

Durham v Yorkshire
At Emirates Durham ICG.
Overnight: Yorkshire 589-8 dec (A W Gale 124, A Lyth 104, K SWilliamson 97, J M Bairstow 95, A U Rashid 68). Durham 62-1.

Durham First Innings Close
M D Stoneman lbw b Plunkett .............131
S G Borthwick lbw b Bresnan ............... 2
K C Sangakkara c Lyth b Sidebottom ... 0
M J Richardson st Hodd b A U Rashid 148
P D Collingwood b A U Rashid ............10
P Mustard c Hodd b Plunkett ................ 3
M A Wood b A U Rashid ...................... 7
J Harrison not out ................................15
G Onions not out ..................................12
Extras (b4 lb10 nb10 ) .............24
Total 8 wkts (115 overs).........361
Fall: 1-48 2-69 3-70 4-206 5-256 6-278 7-314 8-339
To Bat: C Rushworth.
Bowling: Sidebottom 26-6-60-2. Brooks 21-0-94-0. Bresnan 26-12-55-1. Williamson 3-1-3-0. Plunkett 21-5-65-2. A U Rashid 18-3-70-3.

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